Rose Seuseu is a mother, a wife, a business lady, a church official and above all a Maasai woman. Adorned in full Maasai attire, Seuseu’s joy could not be concealed as she received her certificate from the area District Officer, Mr. Jonathan Ekai. This was no mean feat as she had beaten all odds to start and successfully complete her computer classes at the Maarifa Center.
|Rose Seuseu receiving her certificate|
It was pomp, colour and glory on Friday,22nd of March, at the Isinya Maarifa Center as current students, Graduands and the Isinya Community at large gathered to celebrate the completion of ICT training and receive their well deserved certificates. Over 100 students, clad in bright multicolored attire gathered together with family members and friends to celebrate their achievement.
|Graduands show off their certificates|
Tucked in the heart of Maasai Land, along the Nairobi- Namanga highway, the Isinya Maarifa Center is one of 7 Maarifa centers ( Nguruman, Kyuso, Mutomo, Marigat, Ndhiwa and Ng’arua) in Kenya set up by Arid Lands Information Network, (ALIN). Other centers are situated in Northern Uganda and in Tanzania. A Maarifa centre, (knowledge center) is a shipping container that is fabricated to form a room where communities access information resources. Visit ALIN at www.alin.or.ke for more information.
The centre is equipped with computers and internet access together with numerous publications, newsletters, research reports and electronically stored information that includes CD ROMs, audiovisual material and compendiums. It is operated by a field officer with assistance from an advisory committee drawn from a focal group which oversees the Maarifa center operations in collaboration with the field officer.
Besides offering free basic ICT training for local communities, irrespective of age or gender, free internet access and provision of resource materials, ALIN through Maarifa centers also offers advisory services on issues relating to Climate change and farming often with assistance from partners e.g government agencies and related ministries and other non-governmental organizations. Isinya Maarifa Center has a blog post where activities and projects undertaken are shared with the public. Visit www.isinyamaarifa.blogpost.com to read more.
|A Maasai Moran receive his certificate|
This was the 2nd graduation since the programme was started in January 16th 2012 and over 300 students have completed their training and received certificates. In an area where resources are scarce, for many, such a chance would have only been a dream. But now, thanks to ALIN and other partners, these dreams have been coming true! Many leave their homes, never mind the distance, to receive ICT training at the Maarifa center.
|D.O hands Ms. Naserian, a student, her certificate|
In attendance was the area D.O, Chief, official from the ministry of Livestock Mr. Erick Ahenda, Representative of ALIN Ms. Esther Lung’ahi, Advisory Committee student and community members. From the praises bestowed on the center, it was crystal clear that the Isinya Community did not take this center lightly but knew so well that it was playing a big role in improving their lives.
The various speakers echoed this, including the D.O who highlighted that the project was in line with the government’s Vision 2030. “Unless we go digital with the rest of the country then we shall lag behind and will have no place in our own country, so I urge us to appreciate and take advantage of such initiatives from organizations like ALIN and put up strategies and plans of how to ensure their sustainability even after they leave”, Mr, Ekai urged.
|Mr. Mokope, area Chief|
His sentiments were echoed by the area Chief who insisted that everyone in his location must give their children a chance to go to school especially girls, who are often sidelined in matters education due to the backward culture of some members of the community. “ To get these kind of skills that we are getting for free, is very expensive elsewhere, so please take advantage of this opportunity”, he added.
Ms. Esther Lung’ahi of ALIN assured the community that they would continue to support the project and urged them to exhaustively make use of the resources at the Maarifa Center. She noted with interest the beautiful beadwork and traditional clothings that the women created and wore and termed that as a wealth of resources that if well marketed online through various social networks had the ability to change their lives. She urged them to seek assistance at the Maarifa center regarding this.
This was surely a memorable day!